5/28/2007

Cat-astrophe

What a horrible week.

As you might have read in a comment post, last week was a jumble of twenty-hour work days in an attempt to finalize a huge contract that took me to three cities in as many days to meet with principals and shore up loose ends before the holiday weekend.

I was then assigned to touch base with a client in a fourth city, and arrived exhausted, prepared to do nothing more than enjoy some celebratory sleep and drinks over the holiday. But I arrived on Friday to discover that the central air in this property had gone kaput...unacceptable in this part of the country. So rather than dropping into a much-needed coma sleep, spent the day calling around for a repair person to come save me from the stifling heat.

That tackled, I regrouped and called some local friends to see if they wanted to meet up later in the day Saturday. That never happened, because as I was puttering around the house, I noticed the cat seemed out of sorts. At first, I thought it might be a combination of a bad attitude from my being gone for most of the week and his recent flight to rejoin me. But when I went to pet him, he actually growled (!!!) and hissed at me.

This was definitely a first. It was a stretch to think that the cat was pissed about the flight, because he typically defies all cat characteristics and actually is an awesome little travel buddy. When we take road trips, I belt his carrier into the passenger seat facing me and he hops right in and lays down. While I drive, I leave the carrier door open and he'll casually pop his head out every once in a while, check out the sights, then crawl back in and purr with pleasure.

I knew straight away that something was definitely fucked up this time, and stood frozen for a minute thinking about what to do. As I pondered, the cat managed to projectile vomit like a five-year old in a school play. Went to the fridge where we keep a list of local emergency numbers and rang the vet. The vet, of course, was closing in ten minutes and couldn't get my little monster in for a visit. But he did tell me that, based on the vomiting and other symptoms I described (I'll spare you the details) that kitty was definitely in distress and needed to be seen immediately.

Because of the timing, this meant a trip to the Emergency Vet. Now, if you're a pet owner, you're probably like me and live in fear of such a visit. Not necessarily because of the dire circumstances that will instigate such a trip--after all, thank God for the emergency vet--but because of the expense. Everything, and I mean everything, at the emergency vet costs two to three times as much as a trip to the regular vet.

Knowing this, I did a quick internet search on the possible causes of the cat's symptoms. They all pointed back to what I was told over the phone, and the damn cat needed to be seen straight away. Of course, every regular vet in a three-county region had shuttered their doors for the holiday weekend, off to drink margaritas on their porches and take their boats out for a weekend booze cruise.

So the cat was admitted for some emergency procedures. He's still being caged, poked and prodded as we speak. Again, if you're a pet owner, you know how ridiculously traumatizing this is for both pet and pet owner. Not to mention the fact that the emergency vet in this part of the world does not fuck around when it comes to payment. They would not begin treatment until they had a four-figure deposit in hand. Many, many people who came before me must have burned them hard, because as I was at the reception desk trying not to have a stroke over the deposit, another young woman was being refused treatment for her dog because she couldn't pay.

I returned to the house that evening after a very long day at the vet and couldn't get over how empty and quiet everything felt without el grande gato. I thought about going out, but decided I was shit company for anyone to be around, and realized that my checking account probably couldn't handle much more than the impending vet bill. As this reality caused a small series of panic attacks, I got a phone call from an inconsolable relative, absolutely crushed from a broken heart.

We've all been through this one...the heartbreak that happens sometime in your early twenties. It's gut-wrenching and life-changing. It's the heartbreak that strips away that last thin veil of innocence that we managed to still carry into early adulthood, and the moment it's gone, the world feel foreign and cold. We wonder how we'll ever pick up the pieces and move on, and more importantly how--or even if--we'll ever fall in love again.

It feels like a death, yet even when we're going through it, we know that it's just too disgustingly common to get the recognition it deserves. It's all too similar to a trip to the emergency vet--you may be reduced to tears and palpable dread, but no one else really gives a damn. "Oh, I'm sorry," is about the best that can be mustered. For those in the midst of a heartbreak that actually produces physical pain, it's a reality that seems impossible to reconcile.

So I've been alternating phone calls between emergency vet updates and a girl who I'm sure is currently unable to even muster the energy to brush her hair or teeth as she cries over the destruction of an unspoken future with someone she now loathes with every fiber of her being.

I don't know about you, but I truly feel like this particular holiday weekend can't be over fast enough.

28 comments:

The Real Wagga™ said...

Thank You!

Been checking frequently for a week for your very addictive blog.

Been playing with our 6 cats, one of whom is beat up from a fight.

Hope the mog gets better soon.

Cheers

Sprezzatura said...

:(

Aspeth said...

Wagga...sorry you've got a beat-up monster to take care of. That's a bummer. Thanks for checking in, and I'm sorry again about leaving everyone hanging this week.

Yeah, Sprezzie, I'm pretty bummed this weekend. The phone call from emergency vet this morning implied kitty would be home this evening, and I was totally stoked. Then I got a call a couple of hours ago that he's got a fever, which takes the roller coaster on a downward dip once again. I'm beyond ready for him to come home.

(sigh)

Akubi said...

Sorry about the horrible week, but it’s good to hear from you again. Does the vet know what’s wrong with your cat? I hope el grande gato gets well soon.

BelowTheCrowd said...

Hope thing improve quickly. They're amazingly resilient creatures, who nonetheless can be incapacitated by the smallest things.

I always forget how fortunate I am to live in a place where I have a 7-day a week vet, AND four emergency vets close by. (The latter tends to keep prices at least somewhat less our of control than in some areas).

Enjoy the A/C, have a glass of wine, and hopefully you'll have somebody purring on your lap by end of day.

-btc

Leigh said...

So sorry to hear about your cat. Having a cat and a dog, I feel your pain. Our former dog racked up a nice $1800 emergency vet bill when she was 2. (ate rat poison out of garage) I, too, had to watch them turn people away that could not pay. Not an experience I want again. I was hoping that once you got through with your business, that you would come home and give me some Serindipity, or tell me of some travels and adventures. I know they will be coming.

As for broken hearts, all I can do is raise a glass to your relative. (in my case,a glass pipe) My mom always said the 3 "T"s will mend a broken heart.....Temper, tears, and time.

Please let us know how things progress.

Schnapps said...

Oh, honey. It never rains, but it pours, eh?

Hope el gato is okay and that you can find some time to relax and have a glass of wine today.

And I, personally, do give a damn. I would be heartbroken if anything happened to my 19-year-old feline.

And as for your young, heartbroken relative, she may not realize it now, but in the words of a very popular song: she will survive (and she'll be stronger for it).

The Real Wagga™ said...

In the last few years. I've lost Mange (@17) and Mr. Butts (@15). Ive gained Radar, Puck (as in Shakespeare & hockey) plus Grub (a little damaged). Roommate has Larry, Jesus & Jackson.

For your rel, I offer the World's Shortest Fairy Tale:

Bloke says to Sheila - will you marry me?.

Sheila says No!

And they both lived happily ever after.

Cheers.

Khatie said...

I'm sorry things are going so rough for you and for your cat...:(

Hope that your furbaby comes home soon. Take care.

The Real Wagga™ said...

I lost an apostrophe in Ive!

Heather says "Nobody's perfect, give it up!"

She's cleaning the carpets with her less than a horsepower floor vac. I periodically clean her vac. with my 7 horsepower shop vac., proving something... ?

Cheers.

24601 said...

Every time I look in the litter box, I find cat ass trophies

Schnapps said...

The cleaning service came by the other week and vacuumed the cat. She liked it. So long as its from a built-in vac. So we dumped the bag from the built-in vac, then vacuumed the bag with the little toner vac because we were too lazy to go get more bags.

:)

Or were you talking about Galina? :)

(I'm sorry! I know this is supposed to be about the cats! I couldn't resist. Or I could blame the codeine I took for my back)

Sprezzatura said...

I had a bad "cat year" in 2004 -- we lost 2 of our kitties within nine months of each other. It was no fun at all.

We started doing kitten fostering as a way of getting over the sadness and it was extremely therapeutic; we even ended up adopting one of our fosters.

BelowTheCrowd said...

And isn't he such a wonderful little kittie, sprez?

As you know, I've occasionally volunteered at the shelter that originally rescued one of mine, black furball that he is...

-btc

Akubi said...

Sprezz,
While my cat tolerates dogs, she is a bit of a prima donna who must be the only cat in the house, so kitten fostering is out of the question – tried it once and it was a complete disaster. However, I have rescued and “fostered” sickly and old small dogs about to be put to sleep. Fostered is in quotes because I became too attached to give them up for adoption. It got a little out of control though so I had to give up that pursuit. Perhaps it’s OCD or something because whenever I get into something I become somewhat obsessed with it until I find another project to focus on. Regarding the latest OCD issue, I received an email from my mother this afternoon that included the following: Do you think there is some sort of disease...serinitis that you have contracted?

BelowTheCrowd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sprezzatura said...

Kitties!

BelowTheCrowd said...

Akubi,

I've just been cleaning out the garage and tossing out the remnants of lots of former "serinitis" projects that I have discarded.

I think it's natural, to some degree, to focus on things, then get bored and move on. It's a problem when it wrecks your life or pushes you to bankruptcy. It's not a problem when you just need some variety in your life.

My girl, who was here first, has never liked other cats very much. The black furball guy and her tend to coexist in a world of "tolerance," not love, but I actually think they both are a bit happier than they'd be alone.

But there's no way I'm going to introduce kittens to the situation. Maybe if I lived in a home that wasn't an open space loft-style space which allowed some separation, but not here.

Besides, there's already three of us in bed and two of us are overweight. You think I would add more????

OK, maybe Aspeth. :) :) :)

-btc

BelowTheCrowd said...

Sprezzi,

Your black furball looks so much like mine.

But then, you knew that...

Going to Utah this coming weekend. Expect to be visiting your area shortly thereafter.

-btc

Akubi said...

Am I the only dog person around here? I thought Aspeth had a Sheltie too.
Actually, I like all animals, but dogs, cats, pigs and snakes are my favorites.
While I have dogs and a cat, there isn't enough space for pigs given the high cost of real estate around here. Once I had a lucky pig who would poop on my shoes and bring luck in the process. When I was younger, I was fond of snakes and liked wearing them like scarves around my neck, but they were always constipated and getting pneumonia so I gave my last python to some junkie who probably allowed it to die. Anyway, The Twilight Zone is on so I’m a bit distracted.

Akubi said...

TZ is over now...
Regarding fur balls: is this a reference to glowfur.com?

Serin is as Serin does... said...

Jesus, hon! I'm sorry!

PMSPMS™©® said...

Can you insure pets in the US for medical / emergency treatment? In Oz you can but not many people do. You can see a pic of my now dead cat on my blog... I miss him... so I understand.

BelowTheCrowd said...

Pet insurance is available. I just checked a couple of online quotes and it's somewhere between $200 and $250 for each of my cats, to cover emergency care and illness, not routine stuff.

Most people don't have it, including those for whom it would matter most. I don't bother because if necessary, I will pull out the credit card and spend whatever is needed when it's needed.

-btc

NotAnOptimist said...

Great to see an update. Not great to hear about your cat. Had my first "vet experience" for my hamster; she had a great big lump over her eye and I was afraid her little head was going to explode. Vet thinks it might be a tumor. Sent her home w/ some painkillers and antibiotics (in case it was just an infection). Did you know that hamsters don't like to take their medicine? Must be a universal mammal thing. I know, I know... $100 vet visit for a $7.99 hamster? But as they say, money can't buy love (so what if, in this particular case, the little one doesn't really like me? I love her...) Hope your cat makes it out okay. As for your relative... some people say "It'll get better"... but I say "It could've been worse!"

As always,
NotAnOptimist

P.S. Seriously though, heartbreak is rough going, and I'm sure your relative is very thankful for your support. And she should remember that even if the other guy was one in a million, that still leaves about 3000 others just like him. =]

BelowTheCrowd said...

Akubi,

For us urbanites and heavy travelers, dogs are tough to deal with. I'd love to be able to have one, but condo living, long work days and lots of travel make the necessary care and feeding a lot tougher. Cats don't mind being left alone, especially if the "replacement servant" is particularly generous with treats, which she is...

-btc

Akubi said...

Regarding pet insurance: When I looked into it the coverage was so limited, it didn’t strike me as a “sweet” deal. Anyway, I like to keep an emergency savings account for all of the unknowns in life. Having some liquid cash when needed reduces stress.

BTC, luckily my work doesn’t involve much travel. When I had to do more of it in the past, I was always sent to the most boring cities in the country and felt discombobulated afterwards. Air travel is such a hassle these days (and I’ve always hated the recycled air), I prefer to keep it leisure only as much as possible. BTW, as long as you have more than one dog they’re OK with being left alone.

BelowTheCrowd said...

Akubi,

I don't travel much for work anymore either, but there's some inevitable regular family travel that keeps me away a few days a month.

The problem is less the "leaving them alone" than the "having somebody attend to their needs." With cats that's relatively easy: Leave the food out and make sure to get the litterboxes cleaned once a day. Can even miss a day if I have to go away overnight. Can't do that with a dog. Since I live alone in a condo, that would mean an awful lot of paid dog walker expense. Just not something I think would be fair to me OR the dog. In a different situation I'd consider it.

-btc